In a stunning turn of events, evidences have suggested that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) may have “bought” the right to host the upcoming COP28 conference in exchange for a substantial sum of money. The exact amount of money involved in the alleged transaction is not known at this time, but it is believed to be in the range of several million dollars.
The Conference of Parties (COP) is an annual event organized by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that brings together representatives from around the world to discuss and negotiate on issues related to climate change. It is an important platform for countries to collaborate and take collective action to address the urgent threat of global warming. However, if the allegations of bribery are true, it would be a major setback for the global fight against climate change.
Selection Procedure for COP Host Country
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has established a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for the selection of host countries for the Conference of Parties (COP). This SOP is outlined in the “How To COP” booklet. The COP Presidency and the responsibility for hosting the conference are rotated among the five United Nations regional groups:
These groups are:
The African Group
(COP 2, COP 7, COP 12/CMP 2, COP 17/CMP 7)
The Asia-Pacific Group
(COP 3, COP 8, COP 13/CMP 3, COP 18/CMP 8)
The Eastern Europe Group
(COP 5, COP 9, COP 14/CMP 4, COP 19/CMP 9)
The Latin American and Caribbean Group-GRULAC
(COP 4, COP 10, COP 16/CMP 6, COP 20/CMP 10)
The Western European and Others Group-WEOG
(COP 1, COP 6, COP 11/CMP 1, COP 15/ CMP 5, COP 21/CMP 11)
3-Step Process of Choosing COP host Country
The first step of the process involves consultations among the members of each regional group to determine which country from their region will make an offer to host the COP on behalf of the group. Once this is decided, the chair of the regional group formally submits an “expression of interest” to the UNFCCC secretariat.
The COP adopts a decision, usually titled “Dates and Venues of Future Sessions”, accepting the offer, subject to confirmation by the Bureau of the COP/CMP.
Finally, the secretariat undertakes a fact-finding mission to the prospective host country to determine that all logistical, technical, and financial elements for hosting the sessions are available and reports back to the Bureau at the start of the year.
Possible Discrepancies in Selection Process for COP28 Host
There are possible discrepancies in the selection process for the host country of COP28. Concerns have been raised regarding the influence of money and perks in the selection process. It has been observed that some members of the Asia-Pacific Group may be susceptible to such influences.
In 2021, the UAE was selected to host COP28, and it was reported that the UAE had spent over $3.5 billion in foreign aid to countries around the globe. Furthermore, 64.4% ($1,984.2 million) of this aid was directed towards poor Asian countries. While these facts are documented, there have been reports circulating online about the UAE’s use of off-the-track covert payment transactions, which suggest possible attempts to buy loyalty.
It is worth noting that out of the 11 members in the Bureau of COP26, CMP16, and CMA3, at least 8 belong to Third World countries, such as Belize, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. During 2021-2022, the UAE poured a significant amount of money into these countries, with DR Congo receiving nearly $1,000,000 as Foreign Assistance and $890,912 as ODA. These contributions have raised questions about possible attempts to influence the selection process.
It is crucial to ensure the integrity of the selection process for the host country of COP. The UNFCCC’s SOP provides a transparent and fair framework for selecting the host country. Any concerns about possible discrepancies or attempts to influence the process should be investigated thoroughly to ensure that the COP is hosted in a country that is best suited to carry out its mandate.
“loss and damage” Compensation
Sources have pointed out that there are concerns that the UAE may have bribed money and promised to provide “loss and damage” compensation to poor countries in the Asia Pacific group in exchange for their support during the nomination process for hosting COP28. This raises serious questions about the fairness and transparency of the selection process, as countries should be selected based on their ability to effectively address the urgent issue of climate change, rather than their financial or political influence.
Influence of Oil Lobbyists
Furthermore, the influence of oil lobbyists cannot be ignored in the context of COP27, as more than 600 lobbyists directly linked to the oil and fossil fuel energy sector were involved in the lobbying process. Of these, 50 confirmed oil lobbyists were from UAE’s big oil and gas companies, such as ADNOC. It is possible that deep and clandestine lobbying efforts were undertaken by UAE’s oil bosses and their foreign sympathizers to secure the votes from the Asia Pacific Group for hosting COP28.
UAE Hired PR and Communication Companies
Moreover, the UAE has heavily invested in PR and communication companies across the world to present a soft image of itself to the world. These PR campaigns have been instrumental in manipulating public opinion, which in turn has influenced the decision-making of each member state in the Asia-Pacific Group. It is possible that the UAE’s PR machinery has played a significant role in shaping the perception of the country and swaying the opinions of decision-makers in the region.
These revelations, if true, highlight the need for greater transparency and accountability in the selection process for the host country of COP. The global fight against climate change is too important to be tainted by allegations of bribery and undue influence. The UNFCCC must investigate these allegations thoroughly and take appropriate action to ensure that the selection process is fair and transparent, and that the host country is selected based on its ability to effectively address the urgent issue of climate change. And all parties should Boycott COP28 in UAE until then.